By Christopher T. Shaw, OD
May 17, 2023
A few years ago, I purchased a private practice that had both an aging patient demographic and an aging building. As a relatively new doctor in the area, I looked at the standard ways of trying to advertise – newspapers, radio, going to local healthcare providers and introducing ourselves. While those did help to increase awareness, it didn’t translate into word-of-mouth patient referrals, which is the most effective way of bringing people into a practice.
A practice owner I am friendly with mentioned that they had some luck with billboards, a kind of big, “in-your-face” advertising approach. I started looking into it, but asked myself why I would spend significant money every month on a billboard when I could just turn my office building yard into its own advertising space without that monthly expense.
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So, I decided to take a more creative approach to the outside decor of our office. As vice-president of our downtown revitalization program, I’ve given numerous talks to shop owners about creative window displays bringing in foot traffic, but in the medical world it seems we ignore that aspect of marketing. We talk about how to display frames inside the office, but typically forget about our offices’ outdoor marketing space. With that in mind, I took a pair of plastic frames to a local sign-making company and told them I wanted a GIANT sculpture-like sign in the shape of the glasses. I half expected them to kick me out of their office with such a ridiculous request, but instead they got excited and ran with the idea.
The day after they were installed our phones were ringing off the hook with people who drove by us every day and didn’t even know we existed. It might sound silly that people often pick health professionals based on advertising, but just like people tend to go into stores with better window displays, they are more drawn to our office because of our décor–both indoor AND outdoor.
Now, when we decorate our front lawn with seasonal frame displays, people come by to take pictures of it, which they post to their social media and basically do our advertising for us.
I never thought a sign/sculpture would be a better ROI than radio, newspaper, or even our Optos! I encourage everybody to pay attention to both their indoor and outdoor marketing footprints.
This is what our office looked like BEFORE our frame billboards: